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CD Review

Olivier Messiaen

Hyperion 67351/2

Vingt Regards sur l'Enfant Jesus

Steven Osborne, piano
Hyperion CDA67351/2 127m DDD
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Olivier Messiaen's music immediately strikes one as grand and inconceivable, an enigma of vast spaces and deepest innermost thoughts.

The monumental piano cycle, 'Vingt Regards sur l'Enfant-Jesus' is one such work, full of the imbibed beauty of deep and unshakeable Catholic faith and a prayer for the suffering. The stimulating and interesting notes show us that it was composed in war torn Paris and the completion happened just about the day of liberation when General de Gaulle entered the free city. The detailed programme for the première performance in 1945 is also reproduced in the extensive booklet and dedicated followers may explore the composer's meanings in much greater depth. Listening to the work as a whole was indeed a stimulating and highly spiritual experience, a traversal of an almost gargantuan journey into the innermost reaches of the soul.

I have not heard Yvonne Loriod's ground breaking dedicatee performance but can safely say that I was blissfully content with Steven Osborne's interpretation of this two hour masterpiece which offers the soloist ample opportunities for virtuoso exhibitionism and expressionism. This is a deep and powerful work that deserves the most scrutinized analysis and I'm certain that Osborne now ranks as one of its finest interpreters in the modern pianistic circuit.

Copyright © 2002, Gerald Fenech

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